I’m at a Canadian Government’s conference in Ottawa today on “Canada’s Digital Economy: Moving Forward“. Over the course of the day we’ll be covering the topics of business innovation, infrastructure, and e-commerce. You can read the background paper online, or watch the live webcast as it unfolds.

There’s already a lively Twitter backchannel that seems to include a good number of people in the room as well as folks watching online, and I’ll be live tweeting the conference myself. Since the conference seems to consist largely of folks from the “traditional” tech world, I’m curious to see how the panelists and audience engage with the question of how social media changes the challenges and opportunities for Canadian IT.

In its background paper, Industry Canada asked a few social media-related questions, including:

  • How does Canada address its current skill shortages and spur the development of nw skills, business models, innnovation in global suply chains and other entrepreneurial activities based on the further integration of ICTs, including emerging areas such as Web 2.0?
  • Should we move traditional broadcasting regulation towards the more open Internet model?
  • How should we adapt our intellectual property legislation to the Internet?
  • How can Canada address emerging technologies that may be ill-suited to the conventional consent model for privacy protection?

In addition to these questions — which I’d love to see both industry and government tackle seriously — I’d pose a few of my own:

  • How can the Canadian government adopt social media and online community tools in order to drive innovation and service improvement, and model the adapations that social media demands from traditionally hierarchical and siloed organizations?
  • If Canada has fallen behind in the first wave of the info. economy (as speakers have suggested so far), can we leapfrog into leadership of the social media economy? What would that entail?
  • How can user-generated content support the growth of Canadian media and culture, rather than intensifying the pressures on its survival?
  • How can Canadian business be encouraged and supported in embracing social intelligence — i.e. using online collaboration and online customer engagement — to drive business innovation?
  • What regulatory changes or government programs could support community-based businesses to tap the new generation of ICTs, and especially social media, in order to foster the kind of locally-based economic development that will make our economy and communiteis sustainable in the long run?
  • How can the government catalyze changes in the rates and structure of the mobile phone industry so that Canadian citizens and businesses don’t get left behind in the shift to mobile?
  • Which ministries, sectors and NGOs need to be at the digital economy table in order to ensure convergence of our economic, cultural and environmental policies — as needed if we are to use social media and ICT to develop a resilient and sustainable economy?

I hope you’ll jump in with comments on this post below, or in the Twitter backchannel.